Operations associate, Loren, has a thing for nails—and we can’t blame her. We love reading about new finishes and fun techniques, so we enlisted her to post regularly about all things manicure- (and pedicure-) related. Check back every week for Nailing It, Birchbox’s dedicated polish series.
Glossy polish that lasts up to three weeks without chipping? Sign us up. But as appealing as gel manicures are, they can be damaging to nails if they’re not done right. We recently told you that the UV exposure in the drying process of gel manicures is causing a stir among health experts, but that’s not the only thing to be worried about. Gel manicures can also leave your nails extremely soft, thin, and peeling if you don’t go to a great salon. However, there are ways to prevent these after-effects. Follow these steps to keep nail strong and healthy.
Keep Them Short: The area of your nails that was covered by the gel is going to be very soft and thin so in order to keep your nails from snagging or breaking, keep their length short until they get stronger. The strongest shape for your nails is short and slightly rounded. Also avoid using a sawing (back and forth) motion when filing your nails, which can make them more vulnerable to peeling and snagging. Instead file in one direction and be gentle.
Don’t Cut: Although it’s tempting to cut your cuticles to keep them neat, avoid the scissors while your nails are rebuilding. The cuticle is what protects the young, new nail growing underneath from infection and damage. Instead of cutting, push back your cuticles using an orange stick or a cuticle pen. They’ll be clean and healthy.
Moisturize: One thing that I always advise, regardless of whether your nails are in recovery mode or not, is to moisturize! By hydrating your nails and the area around them, you will provide a healthy base for nail growing underneath. You’re going to need a good hand and nail cream for this—I like Caudalie Hand & Nail Cream.
Buff: Every other day or so, use a nail buffer to even out the surface of your nails. There is most likely a ridge in your nail where the gel nail began near your cuticle. This can be very unattractive and by buffing often you will be able to smooth this out as the new, stronger nail grows out. Buffing also increases blood circulation to your nails for quicker growth.
Soak It: Weekly soaks will also help in the recovery process. Warm milk will whiten and make your nails stronger, while olive oil will moisturize them, decreasing the likelihood of breakage. Do this one or twice a week for ten minutes at a time—think of it as a mini spa session!
Protect: While you may be hesitant to get another manicure while recovering from your gel mani, this can actually help. Go for a standard, clean mani at a salon or at home. A good nail hardener will also do wonders for your nails! You can find great ones at your local drug store such as Sally Hansen Hard As Nails and Brucci Silk Wrap. I also recommend looking into OPI Nail Envy, CND Toughen Up, and Butter London Horse Power.
Eat Right: A healthy diet is essential for nail health. Nails are made of protein so make sure you get a sufficient amount of this each day. Also make sure to get your calcium and biotin—you can take supplements to make sure you are getting enough of these minerals. If you’re a Jell-O lover, rejoice! Gelatin—found in Jell-O and other common foods—can help make your nails grow faster. It’s sold in packettes that you can sprinkle in your meals and drinks if you like. Otherwise, now is your chance to have that extra serving of Jell-O for dessert!
What are your tricks to get your nails to grow stronger and longer?
All this talk of repairing our nails has us craving some new nail polish colors. Find all our favorites in the Birchbox Shop.